It never fails, does it? A gardener gives up on a plant and then low and behold there it comes again, fighting its way back from oblivion. Right after you've planted something else in its stead, of course.
I've had a 'Griff's Red' rose for several years while it struggled along (the most charitable way I can put it) in my more formal "hybrid rose bed" in the shade of three taller roses, a 'Variegata de Bologna', a 'Prairie Star', and a 'Prairie Harvest'. It has meagerly clung to life in the shade and clay, barely putting up a cane for two years running. This spring I decided to move it to the front of another bed (to replace yet another failed rose) where it would get more sun and better attention from the gardener. Again, it put up a single cane about a foot high, limping along with one bloom to reward me for the summer, and then in July, a high wind took out the final cane. I waited and waited for signs of life and finally in late August, I gave up and planted one of the new Paul Barden gallicas, 'Marianne', in the spot (see my blog titled I Dream of New Gallicas).
But, as I'm fond of quoting, "life found a way." The picture above is of the 'Marianne' on the right, in the ground only a month, and the 'Griff's Red' on the left, the latter looking healthier than I've ever seen it with two young canes. As soon as the August heat left, up popped 'Griff's Red' to remind me why I choose to grow own-root roses as often as I can find them. Of course, I moved the 'Marianne' immediately, fortuitously to a new rose bed I had started with four other Barden roses. Griff deserves another chance.
'Griff's Red' is a hybrid-tea style rose bred by the late Professor Griffith Buck at Iowa State University and introduced in 2001. In fact, it's one of the "lost Buck roses," which means it was introduced after his death, by Dr. Buck's wife and daughter from the Buck rose-breeding stock. Of the Buck roses, it's the best, brightest red, the four inch double blooms colored a fine ruby-red. It's a well-refined bush, reaching only about three by three feet maximum and hardy to Zone 4. It seems to be fairly resistant to blackspot and mildew, since I've never seen either on it, but I'm at a loss to explain my struggles with the plant except that I never gave it a chance to get going well, I guess. I got mine from Heirloom Roses, which, last I checked, still offers the rose for sale.
Next time, I'll wait longer. I promise.